July 2, 2022

Christianity, or any branch of it, loses its Christian character when its self-proclaimed supporters outnumber and outshout its actual adherents. Marilynne Robinson Is America a Christian nation? Attempts to answer this disputed question usually focus on specific language in the founding documents of the United States, quotations from the correspondence and essays of the Founding Fathers, what percentage of the citizenry identifies as “Christian,” and individual interpretations of history. It’s a familiar debate in which the various sides tend to align... Read more

June 30, 2022

Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the January 6th Select Committee last Tuesday was both powerful and devastating. When I learned early in the day who the “surprise” witness would be, my first thought was “how can a 25-year old White House aide  and special assistant be this important in the story of the January 6th insurrection?” Before long, though, I realized that her position as Mark Meadows’ aide placed her perfectly to hear and see everything. She was always in the... Read more

June 28, 2022

Jeanne’s and my 9-month-old corgi, Bovina, has been the center of our lives since we flew to Atlanta and drove her back to Rhode Island when she was just six weeks old last October. Given what a large space she has staked out in our house and our daily routines since she walked into the house, it’s surprising that I have not written much about her on this blog since her arrival. People have asked me what Bovina’s “adjustment period”... Read more

June 25, 2022

In last Thursday’s blog post, I wrote about how the problematic philosophical theory of dualism has had such a powerful shaping influence on Christian doctrine that many Christians simply assume that they are a physical body and a non-physical soul. The soul is considered to be immaterial and immortal, while–as we all know–our bodies are temporary and have a short shelf life. Problems with the Soul It is clear from the gospels, though, that Jesus cared a great deal about... Read more

June 23, 2022

Last week I posted an essay called “Left-Brain Christianity or Right-Brain Faith?” which discussed the experiences and work of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neurobiologist who at age thirty-seven experienced a stroke and lost virtually all of her left-brain functions, functions that it took several years to recover. Among other things, I suggested that many versions of Christianity are “left-brain,” focused on logic, certainty, reason, facts, individuation, and so on, further suggesting that faith would greatly benefit from right-brain energies... Read more

June 21, 2022

Iris Murdoch is one of my favorite philosophers and novelists, a writer whose work is making more and more frequent appearances in my classes. Murdoch claimed to be an atheist, but she also believed that true moral commitment requires belief in something greater than ourselves, something transcendent not subject to the vagaries and whims of human existence. In the midst of exploring these matters in her philosophical essays and her novels, she crafted several memorable definitions of basic moral concepts.... Read more

June 19, 2022

What do you do when it just isn’t working? In the life of a teacher, this question is certain to arise far more often than one might hope. Every summer, teachers across the country are putting the final touches on lesson plans and syllabi, getting ready for the onslaught of the next round of students in just a few weeks. I will be sending the students enrolled in two of my fall courses the syllabus and a couple of paragraphs... Read more

June 16, 2022

In much wisdom there is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18 I was the lector at church last Sunday, which happened to be Trinity Sunday. The reading from the Jewish scriptures was a very cool passage from the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is introduced at the beginning of the reading from chapter 8: “At the crossroads she takes her stand . . . at the entrance of the portals she cries out.” Who is Wisdom,... Read more

June 14, 2022

At age thirty-seven, Harvard trained brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor woke up one morning with a splitting headache. As she tried to get ready for work, her mind began to deteriorate over the course of four hours to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Taylor later learned that she had suffered a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. She lost a large portion of the cognitive skills... Read more

June 11, 2022

My childhood was filled with unusual characters, all products of my father’s fertile imagination. A Freudian would probably say that each was a projection of a different aspect of my father’s personality—all I know is that their appearances were both unpredictable and entertaining. The “Flying Gynzbyrd,” for instance, was a heavy bird who liked to land with a thud on the breakfast table and stomp through either my brother’s or my toast, leaving imprints the size of the tips of my... Read more

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